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College Presidents

Katherine S. Conway-Turner
PrevKatherine S. Conway-Turner, 2014-PresentNext

Katherine S. Conway-Turner was appointed the ninth president of SUNY Buffalo State in June 2014.

Conway-Turner has served as provost, vice president of academic affairs, and professor of psychology at Hood College in Maryland since July 2010. She is a lifelong educator, scholar, author and humanitarian who, during her 28-year academic career, has served in various leadership and administrative positions and as a professor of psychology at five universities.

From 2004 to 2009, Conway-Turner was provost, vice president of academic affairs, and professor of psychology at SUNY Geneseo, where she was responsible for all 20 academic programs, as well as overseeing policies, budgets and personnel. In addition to her teaching and research, Conway-Turner has traveled to Haiti regularly over the past decade, performing humanitarian work as a member of H.O.P.E., a not-for-profit, volunteer organization based in Rochester, N.Y., assisting the people of Borgne, Haiti, in achieving equitable, just, and sustainable living conditions.

Prior to that, she was the dean of the College of Liberal Arts and Social Sciences at Georgia Southern University and associate dean of the College of Arts and Sciences at the University of Delaware. Other positions she has held include American Council on Education (ACE) fellow at the College of New Jersey, director of the Women’s Studies Program at the College of Arts and Sciences, and graduate program coordinator at the University of Delaware. She has also held teaching positions at Santa Clara University and California State University, Long Beach.

Conway-Turner has a Ph.D. in psychology, an M.A. in psychology, and a B.A. in microbiology—all from the University of Kansas.

Aaron Podolefsky
PrevAaron Podolefsky, 2010-2013Next

Aaron Podolefsky became the eighth president of Buffalo State on July 1, 2010.

Highlights and Accomplishments
In fall 2011, the college extended its reach into the community with the opening of the Community Academic Center. The center, located off campus at 214 Grant Street, serves as a hub for cradle-to-career educational support programming for youth and families on Buffalo’s West Side.

Buffalo State was named a “Great College to Work For” by the Chronicle of Higher Education in 2011 and 2012, both times earning recognition for the college’s commitment to shared governance.

An advocate of the accessibility and value of public higher education, Podolefsky introduced Buffalo State’s first-ever comprehensive fundraising campaign, Transforming Lives: A Campaign for Buffalo State, in 2012 to ensure that the college will continue to provide an affordable, high-quality education.

At his State of the College address in September 2012, Podolefsky announced plans to add a net of 30 new full-time faculty members by 2014-2015.

Podolefsky declared the 2011-2012 academic year as the Year of the Arts. What followed was an eclectic line-up of hundreds of thought-provoking performances and events that highlighted the college’s diverse and creative environment to the greater Western New York community. Podolefsky went on to declare 2012-2013 the Year of the City and 2013-2014 the Year of the Teacher.

Podolefsky introduced a new college crest in January 2013. In addition to the new crest, He also led efforts to shift the college’s official short name from “Buffalo State College” to “SUNY Buffalo State” to better align campus identity efforts.

State of the College Addresses

In the annual State of the College address, the president outlines the successes and challenges of the previous academic year.

2012-2013 State of the College Address
September 27, 2012

2011-2012 State of the College Address
April 5, 2012

2010-2011 State of the College Address
February 15, 2011

Muriel A. Howard
PrevMuriel A. Howard, 1996-2009Next

Muriel A. Howard served as the president of Buffalo State College from 1996 to 2009.

She was the seventh president of Buffalo State and the college's first female president.

Prior to coming to Buffalo State, Howard was the vice president for public service and urban affairs at the University at Buffalo, where she served in various leadership capacities over a 23-year period.

College Expansion 
Under Howard's leadership, the college greatly increased and enhanced its academic programs and services, expanded its reputation for teacher preparation, and become known for its leadership in the arts and culture.

Howard also oversaw the expansion of the college's facilities and buildings: 

The Frank C. Moore Student Apartment Complex opens in a renovated former dormitory.

Previously known as Upton Hall Auditorium, Warren Enters Theatre is fully refurbished and dedicated to Professor Emeritus Warren Enters, the Tony Award–winning director who taught at Buffalo State from 1968 to 1992. Warren Enters Theatre now houses performances from the college's theater and dance programs.

The $30 million Burchfield Penney Art Center at Buffalo State College is inaugurated in November 2008.

Howard oversees the implementation of $350 million in new capital construction projects, including the construction of a new science and math complex, a new 503-bed apartment-style residence hall will be under construction, and renovation of the main academic quad.

During her tenure as president of Buffalo State College, Howard was widely recognized for her contributions to public higher education, service to the community, and her commitment to diversity.

Read Howard's New York Times article on "Higher Education and the Public Good."

In 2009, Howard accepted the position of president of the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU). Headquartered in Washington, D.C., AASCU is the leadership association of 430 public colleges and universities advocating for public higher education, including federal policies and regulations to ensure access, affordability, and opportunity for students.

Read the 1300 Elmwood cover story on Howard's legacy.

State of the College Addresses

In the annual State of the College address, the president outlines the successes and challenges of the previous academic year. President Howard's addresses were highly anticipated annual events.

2009 State of the College Address
February 19, 2009

2008 State of the College
February 21, 2008

2007 State of the College
February 2007
Podcast (MP3, 13.99 MB)

2006 State of the College
February 23, 2006
Podcast (MP3, 20.44 MB)

F. C. Richardson
PrevF. C. Richardson, 1989-1996Next

F. C. Richardson became the sixth president of Buffalo State College and the college's first African American president on July 1, 1989. Before coming to the college, Dr. Richardson served as the vice-president for academic affairs at Moorhead State University. He previously held the same position at Jackson State University.

During the Richardson years, the posts of provost and vice-president for institutional advancement were created. The Sports Arenao pened in 1991, later becoming the setting for the college's commencement ceremonies.

President Richardson focused on developing a new mission statement for the college and a five-year strategic plan to take the college into the millennial year.

New student programs were central to the goals of the Richardson administration. The Freshman Year Experience, a national award-winning array of programs to introduce first-year students to college study; participation in Project Connect, a state of the art video/computer network connecting Buffalo State faculty with area high school classrooms; and a new master's program leading to a multidisciplinary degree in Great Lakes environmental studies were examples of the administration's commitment to providing quality learning experiences.

Dr. Richardson resigned as president of the college on January 1, 1996. He received a position as senior fellow at the American Association of State Colleges and Universities (AASCU) in Washington, D.C. On July 1, 1996, he assumed the post of chancellor at Indiana University Southeast in New Albany, Indiana.

D. Bruce Johnstone
PrevD. Bruce Johnstone, 1979-1988Next

On August 16, 1979, D. Bruce Johnstone became the college's fifth president.

A high priority of the Johnstone administration was the completion of renovation to Rockwell Hall, the beginning of construction on the Sports Arena, and the beautification of the campus (including improvements to the college's Elmwood entrance, the planting of trees along Rockwell Road, and the installation of the Butler Ice Fountain).

During Johnstone's presidency, stress was placed on strengthening the academic programs at the college. President Johnstone campaigned to bring the Art Conservation program, one of only three in the nation, to the college.

One of Johnstone's first tasks as president was to invigorate the Buffalo State College Foundation. When he became president, assets were about $200,000. By the end of 1987, the Foundation assets were at $1,127,000.

On August 1, 1988, Dr. Johnstone assumed the office of Chancellor of the State University of New York System. He resigned as chancellor in 1994. He is Distinguished Service Professor of Higher and Comparative Education Emeritus at the State University of New York at Buffalo.

E.K. Fretwell, Jr.
PrevE.K. Fretwell, Jr. , 1967-1978Next

E. K. Fretwell, Jr. was appointed president on August 2, 1967, and was inaugurated as the fourth president on May 10, 1968. Previously he held the position of dean of academic development of the City University of New York.

On September 8, 1978, President Fretwell resigned to accept a position as chancellor of the University of North Carolina at Charlotte. He served as chancellor from 1979 to 1989. Fretwell joined MDC, a private nonprofit research corporation in 1989.

Paul G. Bulger
PrevPaul G. Bulger, 1959-1967Next

Paul G. Bulger assumed the presidency of the college on July 1, 1959. Prior to coming to Buffalo, he had been provost of the Teachers College at Columbia University.

The years of the Bulger presidency were marked by tremendous growth at the college. Student enrollment and faculty employment doubled under Bulger's leadership. The college became a multi-purpose educational institution granting liberal arts degrees in fields besides education. The administrative structure was changed to provide for three vice-presidents, including the first Vice President for Student Affairs at a SUNY campus. Governance councils were formed to give faculty and students a voice in the leadership of the college. During his last year as president, the Great Lakes Laboratory was approved by the trustees.

During his seven years at Buffalo State, he presided over multi-million dollar construction plans that included new buildings for the fine arts and industrial technology, physical education, science, the student union, the library, campus residence halls, and the first renovation of Rockwell Hall as a center for the performing and visual arts.

On January 1, 1967, Dr. Bulger resigned to accept the position of associate commissioner for higher and professional education in the State Education Department. He continued to be active in education circles from the 1970s through the 1990s.

The Bulger Communication Center is named in President Bulger's honor.

Harvey M. Rice
PrevHarvey M. Rice, 1951-1958Next

Harvey M. Rice assumed the presidency of Buffalo State Teachers College on December 1, 1951.

In his inaugural address at Buffalo State, Rice emphasized the importance of teacher-education institutions and leadership. With Rice's guidance, the college doubled its enrollment to approximately 4,000 students.

Under President Rice, faculty and students served together on policy-making bodies, a change from the manner in which the college functioned under President Rockwell.

Other notable changes during his tenure was the creation of two new divisions, that of General Education and Arts and Sciences and the adoption of a core curriculum for all students.

In 1958, Ricewas named president of Macalester College in St. Paul, Minnesota.

Harry W. Rockwell
PrevHarry W. Rockwell, 1919-1951Next

Harry Westcott Rockwell was named principal of the Buffalo State Normal School (now known as Buffalo State College) in 1919.

In 1926 the name of the institution changed from the Buffalo State Normal School to the New York State College for Teachers at Buffalo. Rockwell became the college's first president.

During his tenure, Buffalo State experienced tremendous growth. In 1919 the student body numbered 275 students. When Rockwell retired in 1951, the student body had grown to 2,022. Rockwell presented over 10,000 diplomas and awarded more than 5,000 degrees in his 32 years of service. Under his guidance, the college moved from its 3.5 acre normal school site (presently Grover Cleveland High School on Fourteenth Street) to its 55-acre Elmwood Avenue location.

Through Rockwell's efforts, the college won state approval as a teachers college, became the first state-operated college to offer a bachelor of science degree in elementary education, won an "A" rating from the American Association of Teachers Colleges, and began granting master's degrees for its graduate programs. He also instituted a building plan for the college.

From 1931 to 1951, when he retired, a student union, two dormitories, and a library were built; a science and industrial arts buildings were in the blueprint stage and a fine arts building was in the planning stage.

Rockwell retired in 1951. Rockwell Hall was named for him as a symbol of his dedicated service to the college.

Daniel Upton
PrevDaniel Upton, 1909-1918Next

Daniel Upton began his career in Buffalo in 1893 as a supervisor of drawing in the Buffalo schools. In 1909, he succeeded James Cassety as principal of the Buffalo Normal School. His first task was to propose building a new normal school (now Grover Cleveland High School) to accommodate the growing demands for teacher education. His dream was realized with the opening of the new building in 1914. His other accomplishments were establishing Home Economics and Industrial Arts departments, beginning summer sessions, and inaugurating Saturday extension classes.

James. M. Cassety
PrevJames. M. Cassety, 1886-1909Next

Two months after the resignation of Henry Buckham on August 4, 1886, James M. Cassety was elected principal of Buffalo Normal School. His tenure at the school was characterized by cautious expansion. Cassety's chief contributions to the Normal School were expanding the School of Practice to accommodate additional practice teachers; making changes in the course of study to conform to other normal schools in the state, establishing a kindergarten and a training school, adding drawing and manual training courses to the curriculum, and constructing a science building and principal's residence. Mr.Cassety resigned his position in 1909.

Henry B. Buckham
PrevHenry B. Buckham, 1871-1886Next

Henry B. Buckham was the first principal of the Normal School which had its formal opening on October 25, 1871. He specialized in firsts—selecting the first faculty, outlining the first course of study, suggesting the organization of the first alumni association, steering the first graduates through the institution, and providing stability for the new school.

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